Sunday, March 25, 2007

Something else to be snobby about

I recently went to a fine restaurant for a Happy Hour with some other attorneys who specialize in CPS cases. Although I'd never eaten there, the place has a fine ambience and a good reputation. But I knew we were in trouble when I looked at the Happy Hour specials and noted that the Monday special was martinis for only $5.00. Ulp. And we were there on Thursday night, not Monday. Nevertheless, I decided to pass on the special that evening --1/2-price sparkling wine (which ended up meaning being charged only $6.50 for a glass of wine that normally cost $13.00, at least for two of my colleagues). So, when our cocktail waitress came to the table, I dutifully ordered a martini. Her next question, which is now commonplace, nevertheless was outrageous.

"Would you like gin or vodka?"

Excuse me?

I just ordered a MARTINI. A martini is a well-known cocktail that is made with vermouth and GIN. There is no such thing as a martini made with vodka. There is a drink that is made with vodka and vermouth. It is called a VODKA MARTINI. For all I know there are other drinks whose names indicate some alternative to gin, like a rum martini or a beer martini or a motor oil martini, but those are not MARTINIS. Why is it now necessary, when ordering a martini, to specify that one desires a drink made with the ingredients that come in, well, a martini? When I order an omelet, I don't specify that I want the chef to use hen eggs. If that seems like a bad example, how about fajitas? If your waitron requests a clarification as to whether you want beef or chicken, are you justified in reminding him that fajitas is a beef dish, as opposed to chicken fajitas, which is made with, um, chicken?

Okay, so you don't like martinis. What about a strawberry margarita? A banana daiquiri? Why don't you have to specify what kind of margarita you want when you order one of those cocktail pretenders? I believe, in Austin, the reason is that the bar usually has anywhere from 6 to 1,389 kinds of margaritas, and by the time your waiter finished reciting the varieties the bar would be closed. Nonetheless, there's no reason to make martini drinkers suffer just because there's a shorter list of drinks that sound like martini, but aren't martinis.

Why is this so important? Hell if I know.

Back to martinis. Jed Bartlett is right. "Shaken, not stirred" is a catchy phrase but a poor way to make martinis.

Oh, and when I did get my martini, it was outstanding. At $7.50, it should be.

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